JEREMY LOUGHMAN, IRELAND U20 prop and graduate of Blackrock College.
The archetypical route into the game, right? Not so.
Loughman has started all three of Ireland’s games so far in the U20 Six Nations. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
The 19-year-old is actually a product of Athy RFC and Árdscoil na Tríonóide, where he spent most of his formative years before switching to Blackrock in fifth year with the aim of speeding his progress even further.
The change of schools also meant Loughman transferred from the Leinster Youths set-up into the Schools side, Loughman saying now that “it was a good move looking back.”
Indeed, the prop won a Leinster Schools Senior Cup title with Blackrock at his first attempt in 2013 playing at loosehead, before being equally as effective on the tighthead side during the Dublin school’s 2014 success.
He picked up international honours at U19 level too, and is now the starting loosehead for Nigel Carolan’s U20s, who face Wales on Friday night as they bid to get their Six Nations campaign back on track after defeat at home to England two weekends ago.
School days behind him, Loughman is now part of UCD RFC, home to so many of this Ireland U20s crop. This week, the prop’s only focus in on international issues, hoping as he is to help Ireland back to winning ways.
“It’s been tough, but it’s been very enjoyable,” says Loughman of his championship so far, Ireland having beaten Italy and France before losing to England.
“This is the highest level of international rugby I’ve played so far and they’ve been tough games, so I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s really challenged me as a player.”
Loughman is enjoying being back on the loosehead side. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Loughman has impressed under Carolan’s tutelage, delivering set-piece solidity and adding some nice touches in open play, particularly last time out against the English.
That handling ability and ball-carrying power was, in part, developed during Loughman’s former days as a centre. He played in the midfield at home in Athy right up to U15 level, something that’s evident in the prop’s play even now.
“Having been a centre back in the day, I do enjoy carrying the ball in the loose,” says Loughman. “But [mainly], I think it’s been important setting that platform for the backs.”